The remaining nine Greater Manchester boroughs on Friday pledged to draw up a revised strategy for the beleaguered spatial framework after Stockport opted not to be a part of it.
At a Greater Manchester Combined Authority meeting at the end of last week, Salford Mayor Paul Dennett, who is also the GMCA’s portfolio lead for housing, asked the leaders of Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan to agree in principle to the formation of a joint committee to draw up a Greater Manchester Spatial Framework for the nine boroughs only. The agreement was reached on Friday.
Earlier this month, Stockport Council voted against being part of the GMSF, which allocates land for housing and other development across the city region, following a rebellion by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors over proposed Green Belt development in the GMSF.
Under the so-called ‘plan of the nine’, the remaining local authorities will work on a revised version that removes proposed land allocations in Stockport and redistributes targets for building homes and creating jobs across nine boroughs instead of 10.
An amended timeline proposes readying the document for public consultation by next June. It was originally intended to go out to consultation this month. The current version is the GMSF, published in November, is the third iteration of the document since the first draft was published in 2016.
Publication of this year’s version was already much delayed from earlier this due to Covid-related and other challenges, the GMCA said.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “Though it is difficult to lose one of the 10, it nevertheless holds that the logic of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework remains.”
Dennett added: “This is integral to our recovery plan from Covid-19, to sustain and create new jobs and to lead the way in terms of that green economic recovery, and importantly, to continue our agenda to avoid unplanned development within the city-region.”
Greater Manchester’s development industry lamented the inevitable further delays the new plan would spell. Housing the Powerhouse is a campaign group that counts developers Bloor Homes, Gladman Developments, Himor Group and the Peel Group among its members.
The group said: “Naturally, we are disappointed with further delays to the GMSF. A lack of progress results in prolonged uncertainty and stalled delivery of new homes, jobs, investment and tax revenue that is ready to go across our region at a time of great need.
“It is most unfortunate that Stockport has opted out and the plan has been further delayed at this critical time. We hope that the so-called Plan of 9, which is now to be progressed, can be prepared promptly, but with local elections on the horizon and national planning reforms on the way, there is an obvious risk of further delays and changes in direction.”
The group added: “Over the last five years, while the GMSF has been in preparation, house prices in Greater Manchester have risen more quickly than in any other UK city. The lack of a region-wide plan – and the brake that is continuing to apply to the delivery of new affordable and family homes – is a major contributor to that.
“Continued GMSF delays will only make things worse, putting adequate housing out of reach for many more families and undermining economic recovery. As we look ahead to the national recovery, the delivery of an ambitious plan for new homes and employment is more important than ever before.
“A coordinated approach across the remaining nine authorities can ensure continued growth in Greater Manchester and help to level up the region at a time of unparalleled economic uncertainty.”
“Further clarity” is needed over what would sort of approach would work for the rest of Greater Manchester, Housing the Powerhouse added.